The response to the ETSU Men’s Basketball Team taking a knee in protest of police brutality, up to and including the sudden and seemingly forced resignation of student-supportive head coach Jason Shay, reveals both fundamental flaws in how we operate our public institutions and the enduring racist and undemocratic nature of American capitalism.
The degree to which capitalist donors dictate the policies, actions, and inactions of our public institutions has been made starkly clear. What may be less clear to the administration and trustees of ETSU is that when East Tennessee State University, at the behest of its private donors, stifles speech challenging racism and police brutality, then East Tennessee State University is complicit in reproducing those injustices.
In failing its stated commitment “to diversity and to broadening multicultural awareness and sensitivity,” ETSU has failed both its students and Coach Shay—students, by the way, whose athleticism helps to bring in the very donation stream that is now being used to silence them.
We are calling on ETSU’s leadership to demonstrate real leadership, stand behind its students, and set things to right.
As for the rest of the system: To break the stranglehold of racial capitalism over our public institutions and to make them truly democratic institutions, we must move to fully funding public education with public dollars. Higher education policy is not a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidders.
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